Bulgarian prosecutors charge controversial businessman after extradition

Bulgaria’s prosecutor’s office said on December 6 that it has formally presented the bill of indictment to controversial businessman Nikolai Banev, who was extradited from France after being detained on an European arrest warrant.

Banev and his spouse Evgenia Baneva returned to Bulgaria on separate flights from Germany and were detained, with prosecutors asking the courts to order their permanent arrest.

He is charged with leading an organised crime group, embezzling a total of 84.7 million leva from four separate companies, tax evasion of 4.4 million leva, money laundering of 589.8 million euro and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

Banev, who owns industrial conglomerate AKB Fores, has been accused in the past of asset stripping companies owned by the holding company. The investigation against Banev and his spouse was prompted by allegations of irregularities in the privatisation of chemical company Polimeri.

Banev’s holding company acquired a minority stake in Polimeri in 1998 and acquired full control of it in 2011. In October, prosecutors investigating the privatisation of Polimeri raided a number of properties and, several days later, the two spouses were arrested at the Nice airport in southern France.



The Sofia Globe staff

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